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LINE GAMES Case Study: Leveraging multidimensional data to understand gaming behavior

How LINE GAMES used Holistics to conduct multidimensional analysis of in-game and business data, automating and reducing business hours needed to check desired indicators on the web.

Using Holistics Since 2017
Industry Mobile, PC, Console Gaming
Employees 300+

We would highly recommend Holistics to other organizations. We think it might be the best solution for quick and easy viewing of multi-dimensional data, which we needed four or five years ago. There’s a top-tier team to support us, especially for technical support — within 24 hours we get every answer we need after we asked.

JaeHyun An, Marketing Data Analyst, LINE GAMES

JaeHyun An

Marketing Data Analyst, LINE GAMES

About LINE GAMES

LINE GAMES icon

LINE GAMES Corporation is an affiliate company of the global messenger service LINE, specializing in the gaming business. Based in Seoul, Korea, LINE GAMES has risen as a premier developer and publisher by acquiring NextFloor as of August 2018, which has been making and servicing acclaimed mobile titles since 2012.

LINE GAMES icon

LINE GAMES is currently pursuing the international expansion of its game business, starting with a series of global releases of its major hits including Destiny Child, which has gone global in over 164 countries. LINE GAMES has been expanding its roster of casual, puzzle, and role-playing mobile games, and is now working on PC and console titles ranging from open world massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG), Survival multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games to third-person shooter role-playing games (TPS RPG), emphasizing its plans to continue its ‘fun challenge’ journey to make great games across all platforms and genres.

LINE GAMES icon

LINE GAMES achieved approximately 800 million total downloads as of October 2017, with players around the world logging in an average of 29 days each month.

Seil Sung, CTO, LINE GAMES

Holistics helps us to make decisions using data we have. We can visualize our data in an easy-to-understand format with little effort, which can save us a lot of time in data analysis. This means, we can find what the strengths are and what the problems are in a short time.

– Seil Sung, CTO, LINE GAMES

The Problem

Identifying how users behave while gaming

LINE GAMES caters to a diverse audience of more than a million gamers spread throughout countries like Taiwan, Korea, Thailand, Japan, and Canada among other locations. This level of diversity makes it a challenge for the company’s business intelligence team to make decisions about promotions, games planning, and games marketing.

LINE GAMES needed to be more efficient with the data it was receiving from users for two primary reasons:

  • Understand how users behave in games, and
  • Manage user-acquisition costs

The company had previously used a Microsoft SQL Server Business Intelligence (BI) solution by connecting Microsoft Excel, which was operated by one data analyst and one data engineer. Every week, Excel sheets and reports had to be manually prepared, with data entered into Excel before being sent out. But over the last two years, the importance of improving user retention, improving marketing channel efficiency, and connecting internal data with external data became apparent to LINE GAMES, which required a more robust business intelligence solution.

“In the gaming industry, we want to see how users react inside the game,” says JaeHyun An, Marketing Data Analyst at LINE GAMES. “In every company in our industry right now, it’s important to [be able to] analyze the data from the outside to the inside.”

Sung-In Kim, Data Analyst & Team Leader, LINE GAMES

We were looking for a web analytics solution for our existing multidimensional data warehouse cube system and were attracted to various functions of Holistics [more] than any tool.

In addition to functions such as Filter Templates, Email Schedule functions and Metrics, it was like a package for data analysts and data engineers, including automated ETLs and Explore Results.

Currently, we are using Holisitics in various business groups such as business, marketing, game management, etc., and the workload of data analysts has also been reduced by half using Holistics.

– Sung-In Kim, Data Analyst & Team Leader, LINE GAMES

The Solution

Multidimensional data analysis for the LINE GAMES team

LINE GAMES’ data analysis team decided they needed a business intelligence solution that would help them better understand exactly how users respond to in-game features and messages.

The team chose Holistics because of its strengths and compatibility with internal data warehouse structures based on tables, which allowed for multidimensional analysis. With the automation features provided by Holistics, the data team no longer has to manually prepare weekly reports in Excel. Business hours were greatly reduced by checking desired indicators on the web, without needing manual intervention.

The team was particularly drawn to the platform’s data exploration, filter options, no-quote functions, and email scheduling features, which dramatically reduced the time needed to build reports.

“Holistics was maybe the only solution we found that had all these options and features, so we chose it over other analytics platforms,” says JaeHyun.

And with multiple departments using Holistics every day — the data analysis team building metrics and the marketing and games operations teams tracking content and in-game data — LINE GAMES was able to improve their overall productivity by 80 to 100 percent, which JaeHyun estimates to have saved as much as two days’ worth of work every week.

Ji-eun Kim, Data Analyst, LINE GAMES

Not all users move in the same flow. In order to understand the flow of users, it is necessary to analyze the indicators according to the user group.

The filter and Explore result function of Holistics is the solution for our direction. We are also able to achieve our goal, reducing business hours, by utilizing the Email Schedule feature to automate our weekly reports that were manual.

– Ji-eun Kim, Data Analyst, LINE GAMES

The performance of the Holistics web server was also a crucial factor in LINE GAMES’ decision to use Holistics. Accessing key reports and metrics over the web made important information easily accessible across the organization, improving their reporting process and agility for making business decisions.

Performance wise, because indexes were created based on dynamic queries, the company’s data analysis team also needed the ability to track the queries’ results and activity using graphs, hence the need for an effective query and data visualization tool like Holistics.

Aside from features and functionality, LINE GAMES also appreciated the personal touch that came with Holistics, such as helpful account managers and responsive technical support despite the three to four hour difference in time zones. “I truly appreciate Holistics team members for their dedicated and immediate support when we have any questions or trouble while using it,” JaeHyun says.

JaeHyun An, Marketing Data Analyst, LINE GAMES

[Holistics] helps us make decisions for games promotions, and planning, and marketing… It gives us great efficiency with data, particularly multidimensional analysis.

– JaeHyun An, Marketing Data Analyst, LINE GAMES

Killer Features

How LINE GAMES uses Holistics

Applying specific conditions to queries

Because the Holistics platform’s underlying SQL logic is well integrated with LINE GAME’s internal data warehouse organization, which is constructed as a multidimensional structure, JaeHyun notes that the filter and no-quote functions, which can apply specific conditions to a query, are the most effective features used by his team. The data analysis team constantly uses the filter function to confirm data by selecting a condition and specific user cohort.

“Personally, I would say it [filter function] is the most helpful and my favorite Holistics feature,” he says.

Tracking user metrics, sales, and purchase ratios

Aside from the business intelligence team, other teams and departments in LINE GAMES reported a substantial reduction in their business hours after being able to quickly track their desired metrics and indexes via the internet without having to ask a data analyst to run queries whenever needed. Key metrics include:

  • Daily/weekly/monthly active users (DAU, WAU, MAU)
  • User acquisition costs
  • Sales performance figures
  • Purchase ratio compared to the previous time period

With over 100 Holistics users in the organization and some teams checking indexes and reports on a weekly and sometimes daily basis, this has translated to significant time and cost savings.

Importing and combining third-party tracking data with internal data

In the last two to three months, the LINE GAMES business intelligence team has worked hard to measure the company’s marketing performance by combining third-party tracking data with internal data.

Holistics’ Data Import feature was particularly useful for this purpose, allowing the team to import Google spreadsheets directly into their database. This led to the team achieving their goal of effectively tracking and monitoring of marketing performance, which, in turn, led to more effective marketing planning and decision making.

“Holistics changed the way we manage marketing data,” says JaeHyun. “By using its Data Imports feature, we could easily merge the current data with the external one, mostly from Google Spreadsheet. The Data Exploration feature has been also very helpful for getting insights by visualizing the raw data.”

Isaac Park, Data Analyst, LINE GAMES

With its visualization tools and filters, Holistics has been very helpful for discussing about the overall data with other departments. Also, it’s great for exploratory data analysis before testing hypothesis.

– Isaac Park, Data Analyst, LINE GAMES

Future Of Data At LINE GAMES

Gaming Loves Data

“For now, we are planning to visualize data in the [Holistics] dashboard, grouped by user case,” says Sujin Han, LINE GAMES data analyst. “We want to divide users into segments—segment A and B—and visualize the data right on the dashboard.”

Sujin Han, Data Analyst, LINE GAMES

With filter functions and email scheduling, Holistics helps us to explore data in diverse view and track it automatically. By providing information about new improvements or announcing updated materials through webinars and kindly giving feedback, I believe Holistics sincerely cares about its business users.

– Sujin Han, Data Analyst, LINE GAMES

The ability to easily access and work with gaming application and business data is essential for gaming companies worldwide, and is only set to increase in sophistication. Sujin, LINE GAMES’ resident machine learning specialist, adds that the company aims to use machine learning to predict user behavior and improve retention. At present, LINE GAMES is assessing machine learning techniques on platforms like BigQuery.

It’s clear that data will continue to play an important role in the future of LINE GAMES. With the company’s recent global launch of its title, Destiny Child, LINE GAMES is preparing for global expansion and, with it, a greater goal to keep users happy and entertained.

Using Holistics

Tips & tricks from the LINE GAMES team

  • Use *noquote*, a special Holistics function that can be used in a query to remove the default single-quotation marks that apply to variables, so you can reference the actual column instead of a string. This is highly useful when working with multidimensional data sitting inside a data warehouse structure.

  • The entire LINE GAMES organization takes advantage of Holistics. Once the data analysis team builds the metrics, the business development, marketing, and game operations teams review and act upon the data. Practically every department uses Holistics for effective management and decision making.

  • LINE GAMES continues to measure the same metrics and KPIs it monitored before using Holistics, but now with a more automated instead of manual process. These include daily active user counts, revenue, paying user rates, user retention, and lifetime value, among others. But with Holistics, data visualization is faster. “Looking for the KPIs [on Holistics] compared to other tools is faster for data visualization,” says Sujin.

  • The release notes and documentation on the Holistics website were instrumental in allowing LINE GAMES to use the platform to its maximum potential right away. How-tos and tutorials that used GIFs and videos were immensely helpful, explaining everything the team needed to know about how to use specific Holistics features. JaeHyun adds that while he is the newest member on the team, having only used Holistics for around three months, he did not have to go through any specific training to use the platform due to its intuitive nature.

  • When using reports for decision-making, the LINE GAMES data analysis team first organizes data indexes (e.g. revenue, DAU, WAU, MAU and other metrics) requested by the business development team, with data visualizations created based on the latter’s requests. The business development team then uses Holistics to view their desired data by daily, weekly, or monthly views.